news Sunday, April 19, 2015 - 05:30

After receiving overwhelming recognition from the audience in Germany, Mayuri Upadhya was sorely disappointed that her work went unappreciated in her home state of Karnataka. Mayuri and sister Madhuri Upadhyay choreographed a performance of contemporary dance performance at Hannover Messe during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Germany. Many members of the largely Indian audience told Mayuri that they “were proud to be Indians”, after watching her team’s performance. The audience also included Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. For Mayuri, who has lived in Bengaluru for most of her life, this performance was their biggest achievement, but upon her return to her city, there was no acknowledgement of this feat. “We did not receive any mention after the performance. Ajay-Atul who composed the music for the act got so much recognition and appreciation from the local media in Maharashtra for this. But here there is no news and we have not heard from the government of India either,” saya Mayuri. For the last 21 years, Mayuri has been choreographing events nationally and internationally. But even for someone like her with such vast experience it wasn’t an easy task to bring to train 94 dancers on a single stage and getting them to perform in 14 different acts in just a month. “For every form of dance, authentic dance groups were chosen from across the country. They rehearsed in their city while we monitored them virtually. Only in the last one week they were able to fly down to Bengaluru and put the act together,” she said. Given the Prime Minister’s call for a “Make in India” policy for economic development, Mayuri wanted the performance to reflect this, and “encompass a young progressive India and simultaneously bring out the heritage of India through contemporary dance”. “I brought in elements of dance and culture of the country. We began with Yoga which is what India is about. There were eight classical (dance) forms, puppetry, martial arts and dance in the form of rangoli designs. Even the ritualistic practice of the Ganga aarti at the banks of Benaras was included.” If this was not spectacular in itself, the appearance of 3D tiger – depicting the technological advancement of the country – brought in a sense of grandeur. Mayuri’s association with the Kannada film industry is limited to a handful number of projects. She has worked with Sandalwood directors Yograj Bhat, M S Sathyu and Agni Sridhar and has recently choreographed for an untitled Bollywood movie. Although Mayuri looks up to the likes of Saroj Khan, Vaibhavi Merchant and Shaimak Davar in the Hindi film industry, her own style which contrasts the classical with modern, was in full display at the event in Germany. “The dance vocabulary is the same, but the way it is packaged is different,” she explained. For someone whose primary training has been in classical dance forms, Mayuri is not rigid in her outlook towards the art, and runs a dance institute called Nritarutya, where she experiments with the classical and the modern. “Even those who practice authentic forms have changed because the world is changing, the lifestyle is changing. Dance is always a way of expression, a way of communicating. The forms may be the same, but the expressions have changed; Emotions and rasas maybe the same, but the nature of rendering the rasas have changed,” she says. Perhaps this prompted her to become a judge on a reality dance show called "Dancing with the Stars 2". “It is a lot of fun, a new experience for me. Airport porters recognize me, street vendors known my name and they want a photograph or an autograph. It is overwhelming sometimes,” she laughs. However, she disagrees that with the rise of contemporary dance, the classical will fade away. “At Nritarutya, we are looking at the contemporary in the context of Indian forms. We are looking at continuing our roots and heritage, and not against it.”

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